Team Reddin Powersports
237 Mason Road
Stratford, PE C1B 2G1
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As a meat inspector for Canada Packers in 1973, Jack Reddin attended a John Deere Day in Charlottetown, PEI, where he was approached by the Territory Manager on his interest in being a John Deere dealer. Not showing a real interest in changing professions, Jack’s initial answer was that he couldn’t afford to open a store. The Territory Manager advised him that it was easier to open a John Deere dealership than a shoe store, advising that a shoe store has to buy inventory, whereas John Deere operates on consignment.
As a result, in 1974, Jack and Norma Reddin opened a John Deere dealership in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, known as Reddin Equipment. For the past 38 years, the dealership has been a family operated business consisting of Jack, Norma, daughter Kelly who is in marketing, and their son John who is the General Manager. John’s children, Olivia and Jackson, round out the family business, with Jackson already providing many insights into decisions in the business, albeit from an 13 year old perspective.
John Reddin is proud of his parents and their hard work in growing the company that has become a dominant player in PEI’s agriculture and consumer equipment market. “My mom gave up a nursing career a few years after the dealership opened to do the bookkeeping. Her initiation into accounting was taking an Accounting 200 course at the University of Prince Edward Island and many late nights doing entries into the general ledger at our kitchen table. Both of my parents continue to work in our company and have a very vibrant and active role, providing leadership and experience of many hard years of growing the company,” stated Reddin.
Currently, Reddin Equipment has brought key employees into their ownership group, working towards succession. “All of these individuals bring experience, customer service dedication and most of all, company loyalty which can never be truly measured.”
As to Reddin’s role in the company, he remains very humble. “I honestly don’t have a title on my business card, as on any given day my position can change. I often joke that most days I’m the janitor as I clean up a lot of messes, however, I feel my true strength is making things happen and inspiring people, which I guess is a part of a GM’s job.”
Given the years of business and loyalty of their staff, Reddin stated that their company is almost self-managed. “I can be away from the office for any given time and the dealership runs almost better than if I were there. Our people know how to get things done and take pride in the satisfaction of customers.”
With close to 40 full time employees, Reddin Equipment’s trade area consists of Kings and Queens counties. He continued, “To put things into perspective, we can travel 2 ½ hours east to west and 45 minutes north to south in a very diverse and intense trade area. Our facility is just under 20,000 square feet and like most dealerships, needs to expand again.”
When asked what he thinks is the most important aspect to running a successful business, Reddin had this to say. “Employees. Although we seldom sit back and realize this, it’s true. If you have solid, consistent employees, everything dribbles down from there. We are lucky. We sell the #1 product in the world, but it takes more than that in a competitive market. You must be strong, aggressive and dependable and having efficient, customer service oriented staff provides a consistent experience for our customers.”
Reddin was very open about his thoughts on the future of the industry. He stated, “This is a scary one. Our suppliers have a very intense appetite for consolidation; however consolidation is not always the answer. It is logical from a supplier standpoint and a dealer standpoint given the shift in the agriculture demographic, however the challenge is merging cultures. This is especially true in a diverse geographic area such as Atlantic Canada. You have to fi gure out how to merge cultures, languages and stakeholders. Then you have to have a desire. And, in addition there is a financial risk to move forward in this thinking.”
Reddin continued, “Atlantic Canada has been hit particularly hard in the agriculture economy in recent years, with the area very dependent on potatoes. This market has seen many challenges in low depressed prices and markets shut off because of trade issues south of the border. In addition, the cattle and hog markets have all but diminished in volumes and cannot compete with our cousins in central and western Canada. As well, our geographic mass is so small that it becomes difficult for our customers to make up the cost overruns by shifting their farming practices to small grains and soybeans.”
Reddin advised that there are those in the industry that believe agriculture in Atlantic Canada is at its lowest point. “We
are seeing our best farmers make life altering decisions to get out while they have something left. Our challenge is to make
positive and profi table shifts to fi nd new markets and new products while not altering the current cost base their farms are
operating from,” stated Reddin.
“We have definitely been impacted by the Canadian dollar. We enjoyed years where we were selling new products and marketing our good quality used south of the border. We worked for our markets and, like many dealers, made our baseline business from this southern partner. In addition, our core customers also enjoyed the spread of the Loonie.”
He continued, “Along with the high fuel costs, our challenge is the time it takes to cycle the product from our core customer to our next customer in the U.S. market.”
With all of the demand for equipment globally, Reddin believes we will see more pressure on market share locally. Reddin stated, “Our partner company is well managed and demands performance from their dealers. In addition, they are fiscally responsible to their shareholders, dealers and end users. They do however face their challenges of new equipment demands in a growing global market, whose demand for food is facing a need never seen before.”
Continuing, Reddin said, “In addition, the current agricultural boom in the U.S. magnifies equipment challenges for dealers.
Finally, we look at western Canada who cannot get used equipment let alone new. It all points to the “perfect storm” in Atlantic Canada. Our customers are forced to make decisions on new products when they cannot truly be confident in their incomes.”
With the many challenges facing the ag industry, Reddin is still confident that dealers will continue to prosper in this ever-changing industry. “As I said before, with key employees and staff who are customer service dedicated, we should be able to weather the storms that are put in front of us. Company loyalty can never be truly measured.”
* Some prices shown are in US Dollars. These will be different for Canadian dealers